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Sunday 21 August 2022

Fostering again


Over the last 8 years or so, there is one particular pair and more specifically the Falcon, where I have been lucky enough to have been able to foster 3 juveniles to them. The pair are incredibly consistent and has regularly fledged 3-4 juveniles annually at the start of June, this is a site where we colour ring as well.

Of the 3 times I have fostered here, the Falcon has been present every time and it is one of the main reasons I chose this nest site, she is extremely tied to the ‘core’ site. Obviously steering clear of the early morning hours as they will likely be hunting, but mid-morning/mid dayish seems to work depending on the weather.

On Friday August 12th I picked a juvenile up from South Essex Wildlife Hospital, a female and a stroppy one at that, but again fantastic work by the team at the Hospital to get her back ship shape, flying and back ready for the wild where she belongs.

This was the 4th foster and in truth, I did have a few thoughts given it was the 2nd week of August, would she be received as before?

This wasn’t June or even July but August, would aggression be shown, would she attack it on sight?

However, the main key and I have undertaken this procedure every time, was to get the Falcon in the air on me entering the roof space, she does this naturally usually, would it still work in August and would she still show the bond to the nest box and circle around calling.

Accessing the roof under Schedule 1 licence with the juvenile boxed up, I gave a few shouts and up she came circling and calling, a good sign at this stage of time in the year regarding connection, I waited until she was head on and released the juvenile so that she couldn’t miss it.

Being at the nest site, with a strong bond to it, releasing the juvenile in front of her kicks in the maternal instinct and makes her think it is one of her own.

Her calling got louder as I released it and the juvenile promptly flew, the Falcon escorting it before landing, and it was then joined by a ‘natural’ juvenile.

I withdrew as quickly as my little legs could manage and left them to it.

The following day, Saturday, I was back at dawn, picked up an adult hunting distantly and 2 juveniles chasing each other, again distantly.

If you watch peregrines, you know it is a waiting game and this was the case, after an hour or so a calling juvenile came in with prey, it looked like a Starling just as it landed. However, it then got very interesting as another juvenile came in straight away; quite obviously a female on size and after a brief skirmish relieved the other of the Starling. It all happened very quickly and was under the watchful eye of the Falcon who I had just spotted sitting not that far away, presumably she had likely supplied the Starling.

It is 100% normal for juveniles to squabble over prey and as I watched the female juvenile, she turned and I was able to confirm that she was unringed, this was the foster, fantastic.

A great result and it made my morning; she’s back where she belongs albeit with a new family.